Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
A Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee, writer Abraham is renowned for his own fantasy and horror writing as well as experience in adapting Martin's work to sequential art (as in Fevre Dream; "Skin Trade"). Basing their effort on the first novel in Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series, Abraham and Patterson (Farscape) have created two volumes, with an anticipated third forthcoming, that contain half of Dynamite Entertainment's 24-issue comic book series, plus an array of extras, including a too-generous foreword for Volume 1 by Martin, preliminary drawings, and a scene's original-text-to-finished-artwork dissection in Volume 2. Unfortunately, each virtue reveals a vice. While the artwork is consistently handsome and vivid, it fails to convey the medieval grit of the books (and the TV series) when it should. The scripting respects the source text, and fans may enjoy comparing the similarities and differences of the adaptations to the originals. However, only readers already familiar with the material will understand the context of the larger work and the important developments to come, which is necessary to counter the frequent unpleasantness on display. Based on the first two volumes alone, casual readers will wonder what all the fuss is about rather than crave more; stick with the TV show or Martin's original books. Verdict Violence, gore, and sexual content; appropriate for older teens and up. Acceptable for curious fans of Martin and the TV series Game of Thrones and for collections looking to capitalize on their popularity or cross-promote their DVD/Blu-ray sets.-J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
The first installment in the engrossing fantasy epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire, opens on a rigid feudal society in a world where the seasons are unpredictable-pleasant summers can last a decade and cruel winters could be scores of years long-creating a hardened and durable people. Up against the ice wall that separates the barbarians and mysterious wild things from civilization, the Stark family has held the north for generations. As the King's Hand, Stark must protect the king whose enemies covet the throne, and the most dangerous of these might be the queen and her family, the Lanisters. While the intricate, compelling story is told in many voices from many perspectives, Tony and Emmy award-winning narrator Roy Dotrice doesn't attempt to perform each of the hundreds of characters. Only occasionally using a different accent or intensity, the tale unfolds in the gruff voice of an old master storyteller enthralling an audience at a hearth. With his British accent and straightforward narration, Dotrice adds a ominous sense of intrigue and doom to the dark and fascinating tale. A Bantam paperback. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The first volume in Martin's first fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, combines intrigue, action, romance, and mystery in a family saga. The family is the Starks of Winterfell, a society in crisis due to climatic change that has created decades-long seasons, and a society almost without magic but with human perversity abundant and active. Martin reaches a new plateau in terms of narrative technique, action scenes, and integrating (or not injecting) his political views into the story. He does not avoid a dauntingly large cast and a daunting number of viewpoint shifts, but these are problems seemingly inseparable from the multivolume fantasy genre. Accordingly, one doubts there will be any other comfortable entry point into this example of the genre except at the beginning. Judging by this beginning, however, it promises to repay reading and rereading, from first volume to last, on account of its literacy, imagination, emotional impact, and superb world-building. --Roland Green
Kirkus Book Review
After a long silence (Portraits of his Children, stories, 1987), the author of the cult The Armageddon Rag (1983) returns with the first of a fantasy series entitled, insipidly enough, A Song of Ice and Fire. In the Seven Kingdoms, where the unpredictable seasons may last decades, three powerful families allied themselves in order to smash the ruling Targaryens and depose their mad king, Rhaegar. Robert Baratheon claimed the throne and took to wife Tywin Lannister's daughter, Cersei; Ned Stark returned north to gloomy Winterfell with its massive, ancient Wall that keeps wildings and unspeakable creatures from invading. Some years later, Robert, now drunk and grossly fat, asks Ned to come south and help him govern; reluctantly, since he mistrusts the treacherous Lannisters, Ned complies. Honorable Ned soon finds himself caught up in a whirl of plots, espionage, whispers, and double-dealing and learns to his horror that the royal heir, Joffrey, isn't Robert's son at all but, rather, the product of an incestuous union between the Queen and her brother Jaime--he murdered Rhaegar despite the latter's surrender. Ned attempts to bargain with Cersei and steels himself to tell Robert--but too late. Swiftly the Lannisters murder the King, consign Ned to a dungeon, and prepare to seize the throne, opposed only by the remaining Starks and Baratheons. On the mainland, meanwhile, the brutal and stupid Viserys Targaryen sells his sister Dany to a barbarian horse-warrior in return for a promise of armies to help him reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. A vast, rich saga, with splendid characters and an intricate plot flawlessly articulated against a backdrop of real depth and texture. Still, after 672 dense pages, were you expecting a satisfying resolution? You won't get it: Be prepared for a lengthy series with an indefinitely deferred conclusion.